How many restaurants can you name that have been in continuous operation for 24 years?
Hobart’s food scene is dynamic, constantly evolving. And with natural selection, it’s the strongest that survive and thrive.
Lebrina of New Town is a restaurant created on strong foundations and its success is evident in its longevity.
Lebrina is the name of the restaurant and the 1840s home constructed by colonial builder, Thomas White.
The stately Victorian residence sits quietly behind a two metre high, manicured hedge on New Town Road. It’s a delightful juxtaposition to the 24-hour K-Mart on one of Hobart’s busiest intersections 400 metres away.
It’s a special occasion restaurant, a secret world hidden behind the impressive green door.
Lebrina offers a rarefied dining experience. It’s calm, discreet and elegant. A place to be rather than a place to be seen.
Three rooms are dedicated to dining and no more than three tables are ever set in one room. I arrived in Hobart the year it opened and it was the first fancy restaurant I visited here – one of the few that existed then. Over my four visits, I’ve shared a room with one other couple once. On my 40th, eight friends were seated at the table available for larger groups. When The Two Girls visited for our December catch up/Christmas dinner, we enjoyed the luxury of a room to ourselves even if it ended up not so quiet for the other diners.
Steve Bryan is maître d’ and he has this remarkable way of appearing at just the right time. I know it’s not the years of practice because he’s always been like this. His service is highly professional, attentive but not imposing. You are able to enjoy the space without feeling like someone is constantly checking up on you, or worse, forgotten and left you to your own devices.
Chef, Scott Minervini’s menu is French-Italian-influenced with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. The menu changes but you can be fortunate to see some old friends again over time.
Entrees range between $29-$33, main courses are $49.50 and desserts are $19 or you can select a cheese plate or affogato. There is a minimum food price per person of $60, ostensibly a two course consideration.
No I couldn’t possibly eat three courses I protested post-Christmas. Errr..WRONG!
Firstly, it’s just not right to limit yourself when faced with a menu that boasts bug, duck, pigeon and eye fillet. Secondly, in a world oscillating between schnitzels bigger than your head and shared plates, it’s easy to lose sight of what a traditional three-course affair is like.
This is what we ate:
- Sautéed Moreton bay bug tail with fresh pasta, sizzled zucchini, mint salad and tomato, $33
- Eggplant fritters with mozzarella, wood roasted tomato sauce and basil, $29
- Crisp duck fillet with pickled quince, slivers of our sweet-sour cumquats and citrus reduction, $49.50
- Pan fried steak beef fillet with sauce chimichurri and a pot of slow roasted red capsicum, $49.50
- Chocolate budino with vanilla bean crème anglais and Belgian chocolate ice cream, $19
- Lemon and orange soufflé pudding with lemon curd, pickled cumquat & citrus ice cream, $19
We eagerly shared morsels from our expertly executed and beautifully presented plates: plump bug and sweet basil; the gorgeous, delicate eggplant fritters; the perfectly cooked steak and duck breast. And oh la la, the desserts, with their generous servings! The budino was a dense set custard consistency and the soufflé pudding was tangy citrus heaven. I would have easily enjoyed a little more of that citrus with the duck too. The steak was perfectly cooked and the plates were delightfully warm. Mains held their own without the need for the small dish of potatoes and beans that accompanied them. We drank the Moores Hill Pinot Rose by the glass.
Lebrina is a special occasion restaurant: anniversary, birthday, treat, or simply an evening of quiet contemplation on your companion and the wonderful food, service and setting. If you have never been or not for some time, you really must go.
Here’s a link to their webpage – Lebrina.
Bookings accepted Tuesday to Saturday (dinner only) from 6.30 pm. Make a reservation by calling 6228 7775 or emailing email@example.com
Lebrina is located at 155 New Town Road (corner of New Town Road & Cross Street).